I met Jayne at AOTA and was immediately drawn to her enthusiasm. Her energy is contagious and amongst the 300+ exhibitors at the conference, her booth demanded my attention. I consider Jayne to be an innovator, she found a problem and made it her mission to solve it. As a result of her perseverance, we have the AquaEve. The first urinal designed specifically for women.
After 28 years of experience in orthopedics and hospital care. Jayne became frustrated with the idea of the bedpan being the only viable option for a bedridden woman. Therefore, she set out to create the AquaEve. A urinal designed to fit the needs of the female anatomy without the mess or hassle caused by a bedpan. The moment Jayne explained her creation to me I thought to myself "duh!" why hasn't this been done before. It is something so simple, yet so functional. Turns out no one had taken the time to consider the challenges faced by women having to use a bedpan. It works yes, but does it lead to the best quality of life possible?
This is a question that OTs ask themselves on a daily basis. When dealing with individuals from all walks of life, one must ask what would be the best fit for them. Occupational therapists should not approach life with a one size fits all approach, rather I invite you to dare to innovate. After all, being an innovator is at the core of the occupational therapy profession. Find an obstacle, analyze the problem, solve it, and make life easier to be lived!
During the weeks following AOTA I have had the opportunity to chat with Jayne, and find out more about her creative process, her background, and what led her to design the AquaEve.
Tell us about your career path. What types of settings have you worked in?
I started out wherever I could get a job in the town I was in- a hospital. When we moved, I found a position at a Hand Therapy clinic. I worked and studied hard and became a CHT. When we moved back to Rochester, I took the OT clinic chief position at Genesee Hospital. When Genny closed, I opened my own Hand therapy clinic. Then the referral sources dried up just about the time I was thinking- I climbed to the height of clinic practice (in my mind at the time- CHT) , and the height of management... Now what could be more? I went to Strong Memorial Hospital and have been there for 9 years. What’s next was not answered until I committed to bringing AquaEve to women in need.
What led you to develop the AquaEve?
Thinking of what my professional life could mean. Kind of a professional mid-life crisis. Is this all there is? I keep saving one star fish at a time? Is this what my life is to be? These thoughts were in my head as I continued to walk into patient rooms. Women distressed over waiting for a bedpan, while a man in the very next room is content with a urinal at his side. The very problem I had which introduced me to therapy, still existed. The connections clicked. This is my problem to solve.
What is the AquaEve?
AquaEve is the result of 3 years of trial and error. Many trials, and many errors. AquaEve is a urinal very specially designed to work with bed bound women.
What was the design process like?
I first teamed with biomedical engineers. I thought I needed engineers to figure out the physics and mechanics. I then created my own mock ups, tried them out, re-adjusted and tried again. How long did it take? 3 years and still running. Did you ever feel like giving up? Sure, the time and money is WAY over what I planned. People would say “don’t tell anyone your ideas, they may take it “and I would respond, “fantastic, they can have it and get it to market, that would be a relief!” But really the answer is no. This is my legacy. I will not stop until women, as a routine standard of care have the option of a urinal. I truly believe even if someone took my idea, they would not have designed AquaEve. There are other female urinals on the market. No one else did a functional analysis like the OT in me did. No one else felt a deep knowing that this was meant to be, and just had to find the solution.
What is the first thing an inventor should consider?
It’s not easy. A flash of insight is the spark, yes. A very important start. But to get a roaring fire, there must be resources to burn, fresh oxygen and insights, and an attentive attendant making sure the resources are in their right place, in their right mix and not getting out of control.
What advice do you have for an occupational therapist who is thinking about developing their own product?
Reach out and find help. Your local university will have a technology transfer office that can guide you. Local incubators are a gold mine. Maker clubs are on the rise. Call me! The worst advice I got was to keep my idea a secret. Trust your OT methods. Then decide: Is this a product that has mass appeal? Do you want to invest your resources or license your idea to someone who can do the work and share the profit (which is a long way off)?
The AquaEve can be purchased on Amazon. For bulk orders contact Jayne @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about the AquaEve make sure to visit http://www.evensol.biz
What led you to become and occupational therapist?
I initially was interested in mental health in high school and my first year of college. I was intrigued with the challenge of psychology and helping people, but that all changed after my own grandfather had a stroke. I was exposed to occupational therapy through his rehab process and I discovered that OT combined physical disability and mental health/cognition. Right then and there, I knew OT was for me. The very next year, I changed universities so I could be more involved and submerge myself in a health science-focused school. I applied and was accepted into the first transitional Master's OT class at the University of North Dakota. I love being an occupational therapist and it was one of the best choices I made!
You can read all about my OT journey and inspiration here- www.seniorsflourish.com/about
What type of setting do you currently work in?
I currently work in a variety of settings. I now work PRN for a few local rehab companies and am also an independent contractor providing private occupational therapy services to a local nursing home and clients.
I also run SeniorsFlourish.com, which is a website (and future membership site!) for geriatric OT's helping them be the best clinicians they can be.
Describe what a typical day on the job looks like for you?
I work PRN clinically, so if it is a day I am working, I am running around in the morning trying to get everyone in my house fed (I have a 3 year old and 2 year old twins!), sneak in a shower and get ready to leave the house.
I go in to the clinic, check out my schedule for the day, read up on current progress notes and evaluations, talk to the other therapists about my patients and am off to complete my visits. As someone who fills in, the challenge is getting all the information I need to treat my patients timely as each time I work, there are patients at different stages of their rehab process. I typically work on my website whenever I get the time - early mornings before the kids wake up or after they go to bed. It is definitely a challenge getting quality content together, as well as working on social media, developing and growing my website, all while connecting with my readers, but I find it very fulfilling and a great way to promote our profession.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in the occupational therapy profession?
The first thing to think about when considering OT is to make sure the person has a desire to help others. I would recommend shadowing occupational therapists in all sorts of settings - schools, hospitals, nursing homes or even community-based settings to get a feel for what the typical day is like.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I would love to continue to work clinically PRN and have challenged myself to really develop and grow my website. I will also be educating others through presentations and clinical mentoring.
What is your favorite thing about being an occupational therapist?
My absolute favorite thing about being an occupational therapist is that I truly believe that we can change lives. I love helping others and it fuels my soul.
Quote to live by?
For my thought-provoking side: When was the last time you did something for the first time?
For my fun side: Outta my way world. I've got my sassy pants on today.